Friday, November 20, 2009

Naver's response to the Vandom letter?

On Wednesday, the Korea Times reported on Andrea Vandom's letter to NHN regarding Anti-English Spectrum:
Korea's No.1 Web portal Naver has started to look into a letter of complaint from a foreign English lecturer over a blog that many Western English teachers called "xenophobic." NHN, the operator of Naver.com told The Korea Times Wednesday they were examining whether the blog "Anti-English Spectrum" posted material that violated the company's user agreement. [...]

While looking into the case, the Naver operator made it clear that the company is free from any kind of valuation. "For example, if somebody posts that you are a molester and you want to delete the posting. Then, we can remove it, even if you really are a molester," said Won Yoo-sik, a spokesman for the company. "Also, if the poster writer is unhappy with this and requests us to restore the posting, we could do so."

He noted that group complaints would carry more weight, adding in this case an individual complained about posts regarding native English teachers, and said he was unsure whether the company would do something in response.
So the spokesman "noted that group complaints would carry more weight," which seems like a suggestion to me.

Suddenly, a day later, the Korea Times, in a classic Kang Shin-who article, tells us that "Naver has rejected a request by native English teachers to remove what they call derogatory and racial postings on a blog known as the “Anti-English Spectrum.”

The money quote:
“Our monitoring team examined cases stipulated in the request and concluded that Andrea Vandom’s claim doesn’t merit any corrective action,” said Kim Hyun-chang, Naver’s PR official.
The article features crowing by Anti-English Spectrum, testiness from ATEK, a smiling picture of NHN's CEO which is hard to interpret as anything but a taunt from the KT, and this bizarre ending:
Meanwhile, immigration authorities tried to summon Vandom, who refused to undergo an HIV test but still got her E-2 visa extended through a mistake made by a Suwon visa official. Kim Kwang-tae, an official in charge of the case at the Suwon Immigration Office, said Vandom was still being sought, adding that her visa status was no longer valid. Last January, Vandom filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court against E-2 visa regulations that require English teacher applicants to undergo AIDS/HIV and drug tests.
Benjamin Wagner was contacted for his opinion, but refused to give a quote for the article unless he was given a concrete statement from Naver to comment on - which he wasn't.

Keep in mind the article was written by a reporter who has persisted in writing articles pushing a certain angle even after being corrected, and most recently was said to have misquoted the president of Seoul National University of Education.

Benjamin Wagner commented on another post and what he said is worth repeating. In response to a comment saying, "Naver just told all of us to screw off," he replies:
I don't think that is the case. I think that's the reaction that the KT and Kang Shin Who is trying to provoke.

In fact Naver has acknowledged that content is racially discriminatory. And has said directly that group complaints would help to motivate Naver to do more (hardly surprising).

Foreigners should avoid being baited and provoked by the KT. They should be the ones who decide the proper outcome of this issue, not Kang who spends 15 minutes on a fake article.

Foreign English teachers aren't the only ones the KT and Kang Shin Who are trying to provoke.

Notice that the article marks Vandom as a fugitive who is "still being sought" with a "visa status...no longer valid." (Even though the letter says she is a UC Ph.D student currently living in California.) Notice also that KT and Kang Shin Who posted Vandom's photo (stolen from another article without permission) on the first Naver article that was printed in the papers. Keep in mind that this is all about a group that stalks foreigners.

What you have is encouragement for Vandom (who is "still being sought" by Immigration) to be tracked and found since immigration can't do it - this is where AES has their expertise.
He continued:
You have to remember where that quote was filtered through. This is a paper that starts out with the goal of writing a story that says "foreigners bring another meritless claim."

The same thing was said when Vandom refused to take the AIDS & drugs tests. First, MOJ said "she did indeed submit them, and that's why she got a visa." Then it was proved she didn't and they changed their story to "these tests are completely legitimate and there is absolutely no basis for challenging them." Then a public interest law firm took the case (obviously some merit). Then the Constitutional Court took the case - and they certainly could have refused it. So merit clearly established. Next, the MOJ says we are repealing the AIDS ban for foreigners, but we will wait to see if the Court says E-2 visa are discriminatory.

The whole time the KT was on the side of whoever said the claims were meritless. That's the fixed story: "foreigners make trouble for no damn good reason." That's what you will continue to see.

And now this article. As for that exact quote: "Our monitoring team examined cases stipulated in the request and concluded that Andrea Vandom’s claim doesn’t merit any corrective action."

Are we sure that's what was even said? Goodness knows the KT has had scores of other completely false quotes. Besides we have another extremely well researched article (as opposed to the KT spot piece) where a Naver official says "in this case 'black pig' is definitely a racist comment."

Now that's a quote with some specificity. Contrast that with the KT quote from Naver - assuming that it's even accurate (which is strongly in doubt) what does "cases stipulated in the request" really mean?

Does that mean Naver thinks its alright to say foreigners have AIDS and are actively targeting Korean children to infect them? Of course it doesn't. Those posts will be pulled, in fact are being pulled right now. Same as the "black pig[s]" comment.

But the KT doesn't want to report that and naturally NHN would like to avoid a controversy. So what you get is the manufactured quote we have.

As I said before:

Foreigners should avoid being baited and provoked by the KT. They should be the ones who decide the proper outcome of this issue, not Kang who spends 15 minutes on a fake article.
I suppose contacting Naver - for clarification or to lodge a further complaint against AES (as a group?) - would be helpful, as would checking to see if the problematic posts are still up. Would it really be surprising if the recommendations are quietly being carried out while the KT paints a picture of uppity foreigners being put in their place by Naver and a victorious Anti-English Spectrum?

On a related note, the photo of the building below in the Mok-dong area was recently posted on Anti-English Spectrum as the location of a teacher being 'pursued'.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Shame on ATEK and Andrea Vandom for trying to censor a viewpoint they disagree with. Racist speech should be condemned, not censored.

Yet another reason this particular native English teacher wants nothing to do with ATEK.

B_Wagner said...

How is saying foreigners have AIDS and are conspiring to infect Koreans a "viewpoint" to agree or disagree with?

Could you please elaborate?

Anonymous said...

Note this sentence at the end of today's Adam Walsh article. "Anti-English Spectrum, to its credit, has removed some of the most offensive content."

Do you really think AES would have done this without pressure?

Do you really think Naver would want to announce the fact that it has backed down?

I think we should assume the KT article is bogus. The story continues.

ROK Hound said...

So with that photo, AES has basically just posted proof they are stalking foreigners.

We can only hope the foreigner(s) living there see this and decide to file a complaint.

ROK Hound said...

"Shame on ATEK and Andrea Vandom for trying to censor a viewpoint they disagree with."

Then why does NHN and Naver have a TOS? If speech should be completely free, then why bother with a posting policy at all?

The fact is, the DO have a TOS, they DO have a posting policy, and they HAVE banned posters and deleted "cafes" in the past for contravening these rules... but I guess foreigners don't deserve the same consideration.

Robert said...

How is saying foreigners have AIDS and are conspiring to infect Koreans a "viewpoint" to agree or disagree with?

Could I bother someone to post a link to where AES said this? So I can see what was said and how?

Much appreciated.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert said...

Woops, I see you did have a link. And they didn't say foreigners were conspiring to infect Koreans with AIDS. They said (some) illegal foreign English teachers had AIDS, and that illegal foreign English teachers were targeting children.

Robert said...

Sorry, not just children, but students.

kushibo said...

Robert, I appreciate you clearing that up. It's a little hard to keep up with all the quotes and their sources, and I've been too busy to look at the source for some of these.

But even if the Korean quote simply said that some illegal foreign English teachers had AIDS, is this in fact an accurate statement?

There's something like a twenty-times-greater HIV infection rate in Anglophone countries compared to South Korea, but when we're taking college-educated English teachers, that discrepancy narrows considerably (but I don't have the stats). When you consider the smaller number of actual English teachers in the country illegally and what might presumably be a short average stay, you might end up with a population small enough that no HIV-infected person has arrived.

In fact, it would seem a death sentence for an HIV-infected person to go to a foreign country and live there illegally, since it would make getting life-saving treatment far more difficult.

I think it's important to get the Korean translations correct, but even without the xenophobic or racist stuff printed on the website, the true egregiousness is their off-line activities: the stalking and promotion of hate that may make them a bona fide hate group, and their lobbying efforts with the media and legislature that make them truly dangerous.

The AES website is a side show.

Robert said...

The AES website is a side show.

That's true. And a sideshow with whose implications I'm not comfortable.

I think it's important to get the Korean translations correct, but even without the xenophobic or racist stuff printed on the website, the true egregiousness is their off-line activities: the stalking and promotion of hate that may make them a bona fide hate group, and their lobbying efforts with the media and legislature that make them truly dangerous.

No argument there, at least as far as their off-line activities --- particularly the stalking --- being quite egregious and it would be better for the media and legislature, including lawmakers who want to tighten up/strengthen immigration regulations and controls, not to listen to them.

B_Wagner said...

Robert - please read the "AIDS Horror story" AES post.

Helen said...

Have you read most poats on AES?
I joined to look around it before but rarely have stopped by there.
I had a look of it today and left some questions there.
Someone answered for my questions.
The answer seems to be out of the point and a comment of it is quite ridiculous..

http://cafe.naver.com/englishspectrum.cafe?iframe_url=/ArticleRead.nhn%3Farticleid=9944

http://cafe.naver.com/englishspectrum.cafe?iframe_url=/ArticleRead.nhn%3Farticleid=9947

How do you do when you don't understand each other's sentiments?

Helen said...

Sorry.I don't know how to link the address.how to do it???-.-;

brent said...

First commenter saying this "particular native English teacher" but posting as anonymous for the LULZ!

Anonymous said...

B_Wagner: You asked me how saying "foreigners have AIDS and are conspiring to infect Koreans" is a viewpoint to agree or disagree with. Well, in this very comment thread there seems to be a cogent discussion of that premise. And that's exactly what I think should be going on. If AES is making unfounded allegations, then they should be publicly refuted on the merits with facts. Which many have done. And when I see someone doing that, I have respect for that person. When I see someone trying to censor AES, I lose respect. Quickly. In fact, when I see someone trying to censor something, my first assumption is that that person has something to hide.

ROK Hound: You're right Naver has a TOS. It is restrictive of free speech, and I don't support it on that basis. You're also right that Naver is probably treating foreigners differently than they would treat Koreans. Are you surprised that foreigners are treated differently than Koreans in Korea? I hope not. If you can't hack being treated differently, then the expat life in Korea isn't for you. And I hope that's not coming as a surprise.

Finally, I have no problem with Koreans tracking ("stalking" if you wish) foreigners who might be using drugs, teaching illegally, engaging in illegal sexual activity, or doing anything else illegal. The sooner we can rid our community of these elements the better. The fewer newspaper stories of drug busts, illegal teacher raids, and the like, the better. And don't tell me about disparate crime rates between Koreans and foreigners. You don't get treated equally when you live as a foreigner in another country. You get held to a higher standard. And that's especially so in Korea. If you want equal treatment, then it's time to pack your bags. And as I said before, if you didn't know that before you came to Korea in the first place, then you didn't do your homework.

kushibo said...

Anonymous wrote:
You're also right that Naver is probably treating foreigners differently than they would treat Koreans.

And what is the basis for that? That it has happened before with some other organization? That's a very troubling assertion to make because it builds in an excuse that — no matter the reason — if the Naver content elimination effort were to fail, then the reason must be xenophobia or discrimination.

In fact, the request being made is one that a lot of reasonable people would think is a dangerous one because it amounts to selective free-speech infringement, an issue that is very much at the forefront of a lot of people's minds in South Korea. That this effort would fail was a likelihood based on that alone, so this assertion that it has something to do with the plaintiffs being foreigners is unsubstantiated speculation. If anything, the fear of foreigners trying to sully Naver's name in the global media would be a reason for special treatment in favor of the foreigners.

That free speech considerations would play a role in one group trying to limit the on-line content of another group they don't like was such a no-brainer that I wonder if this effort wasn't made on purpose, as if the plan was to fail.

Are you surprised that foreigners are treated differently than Koreans in Korea? I hope not.

Surprised, no. Disappointed (if it's true), then yes. Per Korea's own laws, foreign nationals should not be treated differently when their status as a non-ROK national makes no difference to the matter at hand. Certainly the petitioner in a TOS case should be treated the same whether they are a foreign resident or not.

Which brings me to something. One of the article's indeed made it seem as if Ms Vandom was in South Korea and perhaps violating the terms of her status. But here in the blogs it has been suggested she is back in California. Which is it? I don't like being misled by the media, but I don't like being lied to by anyone in the anti-AES crowd either.

matt said...

A more readable link to the 'AIDS Horror Story Post is here. The entire post on AES's campaign to equate foreign English teachers with AIDS is here.

And for the curious, I talk more about them here.

matt said...

Kushibo - she's in California.

ROK Hound said...

You're right Naver has a TOS. It is restrictive of free speech, and I don't support it on that basis.

First, of all, Naver is a privately-owned entity and they can restrict "free speech" as they see fit, unlike the government. Secondly, "free speech" is not free, nor is it absolute. There ARE LIMITS to speech. I can think of at least 6 exceptions off the top of my head.

Are you surprised that foreigners are treated differently than Koreans in Korea?

Nope. Been here long enough to know they wouldn't have ruled in the complainants favor. Not surprised, but then when Korea is trying so hard these days to encourage foreign capital, its not exactly smart to advertise to your foreign investors that Korean nationals are allowed to stir up hatred towards non-Koreans without penalty.

I would have more respect for Korea if they just closed the borders to all teachers, and be done with it. The little puppetshow they put on every month or so is getting tiresome.

Demonizing teachers as a group in the press, but continuing to bring them in and employ them tells me Korea is perfectly okay with hiring "drug-taking AIDS-carrying child-molesting scum". If there were as many teachers in Korea that took drugs, molested their students and had HIV/AIDS as was made out in the press, then I have a hard time believing Korea would continue to bring MORE such teachers in. Why bring more in, if we are all such bad, low moral, unqualified people?

I have no problem with Koreans stalking foreigners who might be using drugs, teaching illegally, engaging in illegal sexual activity, or doing anything else illegal.

And how do you KNOW they are doing something illegal in order to stalk them in the first place? You don't. Other than skin colour, you or AES knows JACK about the people they stalk. That they (claim to) find people doing illegal whatever only shows how many people they have to bother to get their "Ah ha!" moment.

If you want equal treatment, then it's time to pack your bags.

Yassa massa, I's soooo sorry to be wanting to be treated likes a person. Oh lordy lord, I's needs ta be learning my propa place hea. Thankee massa, thankee.

Shinbone said...

Yassa massa, I's soooo sorry to be wanting to be treated likes a person. Oh lordy lord, I's needs ta be learning my propa place hea. Thankee massa, thankee.

i can't believe you went there

Anonymous said...

Kang, Shin-who(Korea Times) wrote that Immigration is looking for Andrea Vandom as though she were a criminal. She has filed a case that still awaits the Supreme Court of S. Korea so she is perfectly free to come and go to S. Korea anytime she damn well pleases unless Immigration/Justice Ministry isn't concerned about justice and tries to stop her?

How long does it take the Supreme Court to take up a case anyway? I heard there isn't any deadline, they can take 5, 10, or 20 years which is why I'm not holding my breath.

Since A. Vandom is/was in California, the S. Korean Immigration Ministry knows perfectly damn well she exited the ROK.

ROK Hound said...

Of course Immigration knows where Vandom is. That's why Keystone Kang is a douchenozzle, stirring up yet more anti-foreigner feelings by painting her a "fugitive".

Anonymous said...

Thanks Matt for letting the famous 'Anonymous' speak as Brian/Kushibo etc... do not. And of course for your seemingly endless tracking of articles/ factual information(unlike that of AES).

It is of my opinion that stalking is a criminal offense here in S. Korea. Back when(?), thugs stalked the homes of lawmakers disallowing them leave there house/to go vote on issues. The law stopped the thugs from stalking them at their homes, now they stop them from entering the doors of the National Assembly(No stalking needed).

kushibo said...

Anonymous wrote:
Thanks Matt for letting the famous 'Anonymous' speak as Brian/Kushibo etc... do not.

I have allowed anonymous commenting in the past but several people abused it. That, plus the confusion it caused when multiple people chimed in as "anonymous" on the same post.

One can be anonymous with a userid. I'm sorry if you feel that creating a gmail or blogger account stifles your ability to state your opinion, but for that you can blame your anonymous predecessors.

Anonymous said...

how do you KNOW they are doing something illegal in order to stalk them in the first place?

AES has been given information on illegal teachers from those who knew the teachers' legal status and behaviors. So the primary source of their activity usually comes from acquaintances of the teachers.

They usually hunt down the suspects for many months to capture the objective evidence. AES members seem to be civilians and they call and accompany Korean police to arrest the suspects at the critical point. I guess they work like volunteer detectives.

kushibo said...

The Anonymous wrote:
AES has been given information on illegal teachers from those who knew the teachers' legal status and behaviors. So the primary source of their activity usually comes from acquaintances of the teachers.

Wow. That's harsh. I guess the way to protect yourself is to either (a) don't do anything illegal — which would include private tutoring for a good many NSETs — or (b) don't be an aßhole.

I myself wouldn't turn someone in unless I thought they were harming other people (e.g., child molestation). It has away of biting you in the aß. My former housemate started smoking pot on our veranda with her colleagues from work, but if I'd turned her in (she was an evil bitch) who knows what legal problems I might have gotten in (this was pre-1997). I just told her to stop and a month or two later she left because she didn't like my rules.

They usually hunt down the suspects for many months to capture the objective evidence. AES members seem to be civilians and they call and accompany Korean police to arrest the suspects at the critical point. I guess they work like volunteer detectives.

Sounds like vigilantism. Why do AES members need to accompany the police?

Anonymous said...

AES deals with only serious cases, such as drugs and child molesters. Kushibo, you'd better watch out the "aßhole" pictures on your blog too. Who knows they fly to your place and stalk you to find who you're trying to hook up with them?

kushibo said...

The Anonymous wrote:
Kushibo, you'd better watch out the "aßhole" pictures on your blog too. Who knows they fly to your place and stalk you to find who you're trying to hook up with them?

Huh?

ROK Hound said...

"AES deals with only serious cases, such as drugs and child molesters."

Of course they do. From tips given them by jilted girlfriends.

It's still stalking, invasion of privacy, and vigilatism (with no concrete proof, just rumours and "tips") no matter how you wish to defend it.

Jon said...

Let's take a look at ROK Hound's allegations:

"stalking" -- They're following someone around who they think is breaking the law. Is that "stalking"? Is stalking even a crime in Korea? If so, what are the elements of the offense? If I see someone suspicious snooping around my apartment building and I follow them to see where they go, or what they're doing, am I "stalking" them?

"invasion of privacy" -- How are they invading privacy? From everything I've heard, they observing people in public. But I haven't been following these stories closely, so correct me if my facts are mixed up. But anyway, we can have no reasonable expectation of privacy when we're out and about. I'm not even sure we have a reasonable expectation of privacy in our trash, once we put it out in the dumpster for collection.

"vigilantism" -- This is another one you're going to to have to define. Again, take the example of a suspicious guy snooping around your apartment. If your follow him and then later call the cops to report him, is that "vigilantism"? How is vigilantism different from a neighbourhood watch organisation? And furthermore, from what I've heard, the end game for these guys is to call the cops in to make the bust. Is that really "vigilantism"?

When a foreign English teacher is busted for doing drugs, gambling, molesting or even teaching illegally, the news media blows that single event up into a huge deal, making it sound like there are hundreds of teachers out there engaged in that activity. I have no patience with people who harm my reputation with their bad acts. If AES can do something to clear out the bad apples in the bunch, more power to them.